Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Lark - Bernart de Ventadorn

No assembly of love poetry would be complete without something by the Troubadors of the early medieval period.  These writers of courtly ballads about love for unattainable women set the stage and tone for the notions of Romantic love that softened the edges of what was a brutal - and brutish - period.  Bernart de Ventadorn (1148-1195, according to Ezra Pound's sources) was one of the best French troubadors and his ballads have survived to today.  This one is not his best known, but I chose it because the translator from oc (a medieval Provencal language) to English is Pound, one of the great - and controversial - literary figures of the 20th century.  Aside from his own poetry and essays and ideas about writing, Pound had a great interest in poetry from other cultures and times and brought those to the attention of English-speaking audiences through his translations. 
The Lark
                                             transl. from Oc by Ezra Pound

When I see the lark a-moving
For joy his wings against the sunlight,
Who forgets himself and lets himself fall
For the sweetness which goes into his heart:
Ai!  what great envy comes unto me for him whom I see so
I marvel that my heart melts not for desiring.
Alas!  I thought I knew so much
Of Love, and I know so little of it, for I cannot
hold myself from loving
Her from whom I shall never have anything toward.
She hath my heart from me, and she hath from me all my wit
And myself and all that is mine.
And when she took it from me she left me naught
Save desiring and a yearning heart.

                                                                       Bernart de Ventadorn - French

No comments: